Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My 2016 Christmas Letter to You -- from Christine

Outside is a winter wonderland as I write this Christmas letter. What a sweet surprise to have so much snow around our brand-new house, that is tucked much closer to the mountains than our previous home.

2016 has been one of the most hectic years we have ever experienced. Back in
January my mum was busy knitting winter hats for the homeless, my husband David was working full-time at our local hospital as engineer, and I was pounding away on the laptop doing last minute edits on my first non-fiction book Finding Sarah Finding Me. As a family, we also experienced the grief of losing Ian, the dad of our beloved son-in-love, James. We all miss him so much. What a joyful singing voice Ian had for God.

By February, though, we were perplexed by the number of real estate agents who’d ring on the doorbell, asking if we were interested in selling our townhouse.

By March David and I had the idea that the Lord was nudging us ever so slightly. We started working on the house to show it off at its shining best, and I started to dig up my favorite rose bushes and shrubs (after they finished blooming of course) into pots for the eventual move. I’d dig, and my mum would bring me tissues to blow my nose from all the hard labor, and cups of tea to sustain me. It’s a two-man job.

By the end of April we were ready, and our agent showed our house in May. Four days later we had an offer we couldn’t refuse. Very quickly we found a new house a little farther east. A cute, smallish bungalow that we can share comfortable with my mum. It feels like a cottage, and I love it. Perfect for us old folks.

The month of May saw me scrambling like crazy to promote my brand-new
release, a historical romance titled Sofi’s Bridge. I feel badly—I really haven’t done justice to that book as far as promotion is concerned. But then—promotion—YUCK. It’s the bane of an artist’s life.  So hard to remain a human being if you’re always saying, “Hey, buy my book…..Pulleeeeeeeeeezzze.”

June !!!   Ah June. Last minute preparations that found my daughter, Lana, Granny, and me, making the burlap and lace aisle and table runnbers for my son Robert's wedding to his beautiful Sara. We all drove to Alberta in separate cars. Our car was loaded with pots of fresh lavender plants, wedding stuff, much of Robert's stuff he'd left behind at our house, as well as Charlie, our 2-year-old Welsh Spring Spaniel. I promise here, that I will never, forevermore, ever travel with that dog again. He insisted in sitting in my lap through the entire range of Rockies.

Granny flew in to Calgary, and we and Sara’s family all stayed in houses at the Canadian Southern Baptist College and Seminary. Whew. During that time, my son Kyle and son-in-love James helped David and I clean our son Robert’s old apartment, and move his stuff into Sara’s place. Talk about exhausted. But we were overjoyed to meet our new daughter-in-law’s family from Virginia, Pastor Julio and his wife Carmen, and family. One of the greatest joys in my life is to now be related to the Ruiz family. J  And the wedding was sublime. Overflowing joy.

July. Oh my word. July. We came home from the wedding, packed, cleaned, packed and cleaned some more, and moved to our new house. Once the inside of the house was reasonably set up, I started to dig my front garden. I had all those pots of roses and shrubs that needed to get into the ground long before winter set. By the end of August I had this done.
Granny and I moved rocks. Like a chain gang. I’d send my 76-year-old mother out with a red bucket—like any good Irish woman—and she’d toddle off to the unbuilt areas in the complex and load up her pail for our garden. We dug one rock the size of a giant dinosaur’s’ egg out of the front yard, and planted the lilac tree in that hole. Thank the Lord, my sister-in-law Michelle found me a $10 wheelbarrow on an auction site, and that’s made the whole chain gang business so much easier on Mum and me. But the garden is starting to shape up. 2017 we will work on the back garden. I’ll have Mum digging holes for the trees in no time.

In the middle of August, I was once again scrambling—at the same time as rock
digging—to promote the release of a second book this year, Finding SarahFinding Me.  Again, because I was so busy digging my new rose garden I have not done a proper job on promoting this book either.

But also in the middle of August we had the joy of our very first granddaughter being born. Kyle and Crystal had no idea that I had used the working title Just Like Hannah for my non-fiction book. So what a joy it was when they decided to call their little girl Hannah, just because they liked the name. Talk about serendipitous.

Late September David and I took a 10-day trip to Alberta to visit Robert and Sara, and I spoke at 2 Christian Women’s Clubs (Drumheller and Disbury) and at a book club at Unity Baptist Church in Red Deer.

We also squeezed in a short fishing trip for David.

October, we drove home and put on Thanksgiving dinner for our all our kids and family. And oh how I love my kids. All of them. Pleased as punch that David and I now have 5 grandsons and 1 baby granddaughter.

After that, I took a long rest. Oh my word, did I need it. So did David and my mum.    

November, Mum and I drove down to Washington State to visit my birth-daughter Sarah and her hubby Mark and the two baby boys. Note that this Sarah has an "h" at the end of her name, a slight difference to my daughter-in-law Sara's name. 
I am so honored and thrilled to pieces that my birth-daughter Sarah has her little boys call me Nanny Chris. What a joy to see my first-born’s children and to play with them. It is one of my greatest joys to have grown children and grandchildren.

By November I started back to my writing career which has stalled due to the busy-ness of this past year. David continues to work steadily at his engineering job in the hospital, and we recently attended a seminar for people retiring in the next year or 2. We can’t possibly be that old already. Can we?

And Mum found her knitting needles and has started again to knit toques for the homeless and baby toques for Prolife, while I, in the living room, pound away on my laptop once more.

As we look forward to 2017, we pray that we will continue to serve the Lord with whole hearts.

It is my particular prayer, that I especially will grow more and more in love with Christ, and love my neighbor as myself, as Jesus instructed. These days in the news Christians seem to get such a bad rap. Too bad people only hear those voices that do not speak the way Christ wants His followers to speak. Real Christians are busy, head-down, hard at work to relieve the suffering of people in missionary work, or in churches, and speak words of love to bring comfort to those who are hurting.
As I finish off this Christmas letter, I bow my head and pray for my friends, that the Lord will draw you close to Himself. That you come to know Him in truth. That you let him shine His face upon you.

Hugs for now, have a wonderful 2017. I promise next Christmas letter will be much shorter.


Saturday, December 03, 2016

Why Not Consider the Children? By Guest Author Dianne Barker

“How are the children?” I said to a friend who had just told me she’s single again.

“They’re fine with it. They’re glad we’re not together.”

Really? I seriously doubt that. (No, I didn’t say it.) The faces of her teenage sons told a different story. I could only imagine their heartbreak.
Twenty years of marriage down the drain. Another Christian couple couldn’t make it work. I’m never shy about asking what happened.

“I got tired of the arguing,” she said. “I didn’t want our children to grow up thinking this is what marriage is supposed to be like.” She didn’t mention any alarming issues such as physical abuse,  addictions, or unfaithfulness.

I’m thinking…how many people does it take to have an argument? Can’t one person who chooses to be self-controlled keep a discussion from escalating?

My husband and I are as opposite as two people can be, meaning we have a different perspective on almost everything. That has led to some spirited discussions, but we’ve managed to work through our difference of opinion. Accepting my role of submission has proven crucial—I express my opinion, but he makes the decision.

We’ve been happily married for fifty-one years—happier some days than others. Two children blessed our home, added their own distinct personalities. Finding a way for four people to live in harmony could be challenging, but we survived.

I can tell you this: feeling disgruntled toward my husband affected my relationship with the children. I was preoccupied, annoyed, and short-tempered. And that’s my problem with the Lord. No matter what my husband says or does, my responsibility is to please the Lord. Good news! Choosing to please him affects the children as well.

A young woman who had set her heart to divorce said friends advised her, “Don’t stay together just for the sake of the children.”

For heaven’s sake, why not? If that’s the only reason for giving everything you’ve got to make the marriage work, it’s reason enough.

Every day families are ripped in half by lies. “Divorce is the only option. Children are flexible…they’ll adjust.”

How it must tear a child’s heart to learn that Daddy and Mommy won’t live together any more. Adult children who had already left home when their parents divorced have told me it was the most heart-wrenching thing they ever experienced, and they never got over it. Children who’ve witnessed or experienced violence in the home may accept the reality of separation. But many children of divorce say, “In a perfect world, my parents would still be together.”

Daily relationship stuff can be difficult and messy. Life drains. People change. The enemy never lets up. He suggests divorce—an easy way out to avoid dealing with a contrary spouse. The reality is—if you have children—you’ll still have to deal with each other. You’ll have some kind of relationship (possibly more complicated than the present) until the children reach adulthood and independence—and thereafter as well.

One verse can transform a troubled marriage, if both husband and wife apply it. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).  I’ve seen relationships improve when only one person decided to live out this basic principle of kindness.

Why not try putting that into practice? Consider the children.

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. This post is adapted from her forthcoming book Help! I’m Stuck and I Can’t Get Out! The Maximum Marriage Maintenance and Repair Kit. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Adoption Was an Answer to Prayer by Guest Author N. J. Lindquist

I was four years old when my mother told me I was adopted. I had very little idea what she was telling me, but she read a book to me about how parents sometimes can’t keep their babies, and how God has to find other homes for the babies. She ended by saying that God had chosen her and my dad to be my parents. I’m also pretty sure my paternal grandmother gave her the book.
I nodded and that was that. Seriously, I was content that God was looking after me and everything was okay.
Oh, as I grew older, I had a vague awareness that, unless I’d been given up for adoption because they had died, I must have another mother and father somewhere out there.  But I never worried about it and I didn’t feel a desire to track them down or ask for explanations.
When I was in my teens, I occasionally wondered if I might know my mother. Perhaps she was a relative who had been a teenager when I was born.  A few times I wondered if I might be related to someone famous, like Elvis. And he’d find out and come to see me. That would be cool. But I knew that was just a silly daydream.
When I became an adult, I thought about looking for my birth parents, but I never did. For one thing, I had four active sons who kept me busy. But also, as an only child, I was the one who had to look after my parents as they aged. I shuddered when I thought of being responsible for another set of parents.
But more important, the older I became, the more convinced I was that God
really had put me where he wanted me to be.  While my parents believed there was a God and kind of left it there, I’ve known since I was a young child that you can have a relationship with him. My paternal grandmother and several other members of my father’s extended family were devout Christians who shared their faith with me, and since I was three or four, I’ve never once doubted that God loves me and put me exactly where he wanted me.
But then came the day when my first grandchild was born and her dad, my oldest son, asked if I knew my family’s medical history.
I came to earth with a thud as I realized, for the first time, that the story of my birth wasn't my story. It was also my sons' story, and my grandchildren's, and their children's.
I contacted Parent Finders, and they told me how to contact the Post Adoption Agency in Regina. Within a short time, my birth mother and I were in contact. She lived across the country from me, so we didn’t meet right away, but we talked by phone and email.  She told me who my birth dad was, too, and I was able to meet him.
Their story was one that’s been repeated many times. Two young people, not ready to start a life together, never mind a family. A Salvation Army hostel for unwed mothers.  A married couple in their late thirties who were unable to have a child. An agency that served as the go-between.
The sad part is that my birth mother was given no choice, and she was devastated when she had to say good-bye to me. But in the end, my birth was the catalyst that caused her to turn to God, and that led to her meeting the man she eventually married and having six children with him.
My birth father also married the right woman for him, and they had three children.
Author NJ. Lindquist on the right, her birth-mother on the left.
My father passed on before I met my birth family, and my mother was alive but unaware. However, both of my parents came to know God personally before their deaths from lung cancer and dementia.
Looking back, I’m so glad my son asked me that question, and that we now have relationships with members of my birth family. But, mostly, I’m glad that God took what could have been a bad situation for all concerned and turned it into a very happy one.
You might be wondering at my title; how was my adoption an answer to prayer? Just this:   
·        My paternal grandmother and several of my father’s siblings and spouses prayed for my parents and me as long as they were alive.
·        My birth mother prayed for me every day of my life from when I was only a few months old.  
·        My mother-in-law prayed for the woman her son would marry from the day he was born.
·        My husband also prayed for his future wife-to be.
I first heard the words of Psalm 139:13 when I was young: “You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother's womb.” I’ve always felt those words were written for me. And because of them, I’ve always believed that my parents needed me as much as I needed them. I was an answer to prayer.
Copyright N. J. Lindquist, 2016.

N. J. Lindquist is an award-winning author, empowering speaker, and experienced writing teacher.  Originally from the Canadian prairies, she and her husband Les have lived in Ontario for more than 30 years.
If you’re interested in learning more details of N. J.’s story, check out her website where she’ll be blogging about her adoption and other stories. You can also get a free ebook. http://www.njlindquist.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

November is Adoption Awareness Month and brand new release Finding Sarah Finding Me is a non-fiction memoir that addresses the deep emotional and psychological healing that is often required for people touched by adoption, infertility, or pregnant, unmarried, and afraid. 

FINDING SARAH FINDING ME: (Back of the book description) 

Sometimes it is only through giving up our hearts that we learn to trust the Lord.

Adoption. It’s something that touches one in three people today, a word that will conjure different emotions in those people touched by it. A word that might represent the greatest hope…the greatest question…the greatest sacrifice. But most of all, it’s a word that represents God’s immense love for his people.

Join birth mother Christine Lindsay as she shares the heartaches, hopes, and epiphanies of her journey to reunion with the daughter she gave up...and to understanding her true identity in Christ along the way.

Through a birth-mother's story and glimpses into the lives of other adoption triads, readers will see the beauty of our broken families, broken hearts, and broken dreams when we entrust them to our loving God.
  • Main author, multi-award-winning Christine Lindsay, as a birth-mother could not possibly accept any payment, and has arranged for 100% of royalties from this book to be donated to Global Aid Network Women's and Children's Initiative.  This is for the life-time of the book.
By purchasing this book you are helping to: 
  • Encourage others who are touched by adoption, the happy and the sad.
  • Give hope to those with an unplanned pregnancy to consider the choice of adoption as an alternative to abortion.
Go here to read Chapter 1. http://www.christinelindsay.org/p/finding-sarah-finding-me-birth-mothers.html  and more about this non-fiction book.

Someone you know may need this honest but drenched in hope book.

Monday, November 07, 2016

A very special request from Christine Lindsay

November is Adoption Awareness Month, and I am asking you to support my Thunderclap message to help me spread the word about the new release Finding Sarah Finding Me. 
Why on earth should you do that? 
Because this true-life story is so precious to me, I could never accept money from its publication. I only want to do the following:

• 100% of royalties from this book will be donated to Global Aid Network Women's and Children's Initiative. This is not a one-time thing, but for the entire lifetime of the book. Help me raise funds for hurting women and orphans. 

• That through the story, those struggling with adoption issues will be encouraged. 

• That women and girls currently in an unplanned pregnancy will be encouraged to consider the choice of adoption as an alternative to abortion.
Finding Sarah Finding Me is a non-fiction memoir that reaches out to people touched by adoption, those considering the scary prospect of adoption reunion, and those girls/women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy.
I am asking for your 5 second help in this on-line campaign.
Thunderclap is a platform on social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that allows people to pledge to a one-time concentrated message going out all at once. Think of it as a massive flash mob to promote MY message on YOUR social media. This pledge is scam free and completely safe in putting out this one-time message.
Here is how you can help me:

Click on this url http://thndr.me/lXBkPR which will take you to my Thunderclap Page for Finding Sarah Finding Me.
On that page you will have three options (red buttons) to either support my message with Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, or even all three.
That’s all you have to do, then my message will automatically go out on November 18 on your social media at 12 PM EST. This will happen only once, and no one will scam you later. Trust me, I’ve done this before, and done it for others.
Thank you for considering pledging to helping me get this message out through this Thunderclap message. It is the desire of my heart to encourage hurting people through this book that has been a long time in the developing.  

Blessings on you.
That Thunderclap link again       http://thndr.me/lXBkPR

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Children of Dreams -- by guest author Lorilyn Roberts

November is Adoption Awareness Month
To celebrate that I will be having guests all month whose lives have been touched by adoption. 

My guest today is Lorilyn Roberts, Adoptive Mother, and author of Children of Dreams, the 2016 Readers Favorite Award Winner in the Memoir category. Below is an excerpt for this book. 
This last deception will be worse than the first
Matthew 27:64

December 6, 1999, 5:00 P.M.

I felt exhilarated to have landed safely. All of our bags arrived in one piece, including the one with the broken zipper, and we checked into our room, number 504, at the Lillie Hotel without any problems. I had no tours of the red light district of downtown Hanoi as I had had in Bangkok.
Aside from being tired and hungry, my adrenaline had kicked in as I anticipated receiving my baby. I walked downstairs to the lobby to get more information from the desk clerk on when that would be. The young woman at the registration counter knew Anne, my contact person, as many adoptive mothers had previously stayed at the Lillie Hotel. I was surprised to see the other two women from the airport already in the lobby. They were crowded around a young man I did not know. The young Vietnamese lad spoke very broken English
“Your baby be here soon,” he said to the young woman I came to know as Jackie. She had a husband and five-year-old son back home in Canada.
That’s how it worked. Anne had a contact person at the hotel that would have the babies dropped off after the adoptive families or mothers arrived.
He looked at the second Canadian woman, who was an older, and said, “Your baby be here soon, too.”
I was excited for them and could hardly wait to hear the same words spoken to me. My heart fluttered in anticipation to meet my new baby. The other mothers cleared out of my way so he could address me with news about my baby.
“There is problem with baby,” he said to me.
“What?” I asked. “What problem with my baby?”
I thought he meant some sort of medical problem. My excitement to be in Vietnam and anticipation of receiving my baby evaporated into worry and fear. He started to explain more, but because of his poor English, I couldn’t understand most of what he said. I briefly reflected back to Nepal and how fortunate I was that Ankit spoke English so well.
“When will I receive my baby?” I asked. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I tried to control the tone in my voice. The receptionist at the desk tried to help with translation, but the most I could get out of either of them was that he didn’t know. Anne would call me tomorrow.
“Tomorrow?” I repeated. That was completely unacceptable.
“Please have her call me tonight,” I yelled at him, “immediately!”
I was visibly upset that I was talking to him and not to her. How could she do this to me? How could she not let me know what was going on and send this man who spoke such poor English to be the bearer of bad news? Being fatigued and jet lagged from the trip didn’t help. I felt slighted that the other women were receiving their babies and I wasn’t receiving mine.


Children of Dreams was a 2016 Readers Favorite Award Winner in the Memoir category. You can download a free copy (mobi or epub) by signing up for her email list at: https://payhip.com/b/Xhl2

To learn more about Lorilyn and her books, visit her website at http://LorilynRoberts.com

Monday, October 24, 2016

Praying For Our Kids—The Power Rests in God, Not Our Words by Edie Melson

My guest author today, Edie Melson, is doing a giveaway for an autographed paper copy of her book While My Child is Away. To enter this giveaway draw, please leave a blog comment below about a prayer you prayed for your children that God answered, including the spelling out of your email address. I will draw the winning name on Sunday Oct. 30.  

Praying For Our Kids—The Power Rests in God, Not Our Words by Edie Melson

In spite of the fact that I now write books of prayers, praying didn’t always come easy to me. Early on my lack of prayer power didn’t bother me. It wasn’t until I began having children that the urgency hit. Then my prayer life became vitally important. I wanted to be the type of mom who prayed powerful prayers that protected her children no matter what happened.

I worried that my prayers weren’t good enough. Maybe I hadn’t spent enough time on thanksgiving or confession. Or perhaps I was saying things in the wrong order. Truthfully I was looking for a formula that would infuse my prayers with power enough to get God’s undivided attention on my child’s behalf.

Turns out that what I believed about my role in prayer was all backwards.

I was looking for power in my words, instead of focusing on the power of God. And I was forgetting that each of us has God’s undivided attention—always. He loves each of us, and more importantly to me, He loves each of my children even more than I do.

Even when I discovered the mistake in my thinking about prayer, I still wasn’t quite sure how to frame my prayers. Then I revisited one of my favorite passages in the Bible. So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11. That was what I needed to redirect my prayer life and get me on the right track.

Here are the 3 steps I used to refocus my prayers:
·         I began praying specific verses for my children. I’d choose a verse or two and insert my son’s name in place of any pronouns.

·         I started a prayer journal. For me, it was too easy to get lost in prayer. Once I started writing them out, I could remain focused.

·         I recorded how God spoke and how He moved. Often as I was praying, I would feel like God was directing my prayers and/or adding to them. By writing these down, I could go back later and see how He had worked. I also went back later and added in how God answered these prayers.

These three simple steps revitalized my prayer life. By taking the focus off of me and putting it back on God, the peace returned. With that peace, my faith also took wings and began to grow.

Prayer is non-negotiable in the list of things we do for our children. But the power behind those prayers isn’t our responsibility. Our part is obedience, the rest is up to God, and He is more than able for the job.


Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s addressing parents, military families or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Connect with her on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Purchase Links to the Book:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wisdom from my Guest Author Elaine Stock "My T-shirts"

My returning guest this week is a dear writing friend, Elaine Stock. Elaine is offering a Kindle ebook Giveaway of her debut novel Always With You which I highly recommend. I gave it 5 stars. Leave a blog comment below (about this post or the author) and I'll draw the winning name on Oct. 23.  Just in case you have already read Always With You: Elaine is offering the Kindle copy of Christmas Treasures, an anthology (her Christmas Story featured among other authors) that is currently #3 on Amazon. Winner can choose 1 of either books.

And now "My T-shirts" by Guest Author Elaine Stock

If I could get away with it, I’d live in T-shirts and loose fitting jeans or khakis daily. Like many other vacation travelers I love my souvenirs to remind me of the places I’ve been and enjoyed. Specifically, I adore my tourist tees. You know, the ones with the city or quaint town’s name emblazoned across the shirt, often with a cute logo or picture. I’m wearing one right now—an old green one from the time my husband and I drove to Nova Scotia. Too long ago, now, the design has faded and I didn’t take a photo like the ones I’m sharing below.

Here’s one from my recent work-vacation to the ACFW conference in Nashville.
I love attending writing conferences—they’re my version of Disney Land! This T-shirt is a touristy one; not conference related.

This T is from my trip to Michigan last year when I attended the Maranatha
Writer’s Conference. Like my Nashville shirt, this one isn’t a conference tee, but does reflect the conference site.

Years ago, when I attended a New Jersey chapter RWA, I did manage to snag a true writer’s tee about putting your heart into a book. 

Well, that’s all in the name of fun … and wishing I played tourist a lot more than I do! I’ve been thinking lately what kind of T-shirts I might or should wear in the future. When I hear people jokingly gripe about their ages: “Hey, I woke up today—guess I can’t complain” I usually counter with “You’re supposed to say ‘I don’t get older but just better.’” Here’s the thing: I am getting older. We’re all getting older. I know. This is not news. More than less these days I wake up to a world flinging craziness and frightening ideologies, tempting me to imagine what it would be like to hide under the covers the rest of my life. Here’s a T-shirt I wonder if I should be wearing:

Better yet, here’s the T-shirt I think I’ll choose for the rest of my days:

It’s blank! So God can write and illustrate it exactly how He chooses, not how I wish. I can’t go wrong!

Elaine Stock is the author of Always With You, which released in January 2016 and has made the Kindle bestseller list. 

Elaine's novels fuse family drama and psychological suspense. She is a
member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and contributes to the international “Happy Sis Magazine.” In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, she hangs out on her active blog, Everyone’s Story, dedicated to uplifting and encouraging all readers through the power of story and hope.

Purchase Links for Always With You:

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1PfRyXX

Links to find Elaine Stock
Website/blog: Everyone's Story  http://elainestock.com

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Man of the House by Guest Author Linda Sammaritan

In 1967, the U.S. Air Force lost a horrific number of fighter pilots in Vietnam. On the home front, their wives learned to balance the checkbook, take care of the property inside and out, make dozens of solo executive decisions every week, all the while maintaining a calm exterior to the rest of the world.

This "Slice of Life" piece is for all the military moms who valiantly coped with ten thousand stresses during war

Man of the House by Linda Sammaritan

Dad placed his hands on my brother’s shoulders and looked him straight in the eye. “You’re the man of the house, now.”

And then he shipped out for Vietnam.  

I didn’t mind that Dad had bestowed this singular honor upon Doug. Really I didn’t. As the oldest, and a girl, the title of “man of the house” didn’t fit me. Besides, Dad had made it clear, all four of us were expected to help Mom, even Tricia who was only two.

Problem was, ten-year-old Doug took Dad’s words literally.

Mom said he was adorable, taking his job so seriously. He sat in Dad’s place at the dinner table. He decided when the lawn should be mowed and insisted that Mom take him to the filling station to top off the five-gallon gas can. Now. And she would.

When a boy dropped by the house to hang out with me, Doug didn’t allow me out of his sight. If we watched television in the den, Doug watched with us. If we went for a walk, he followed us down the block. After a couple of months, I was sick of him.

Steve was mad, too. Instead of the normal big brother banter, Doug ordered him around like a general with the troops. “Rake the leaves along the driveway.” “Make sure you’re home before six.” Sheesh.

Mom stopped thinking it was cute when he tried his parenting skills on Tricia. Grandma and I were clearing plates from the table after dinner while Mom scooped ice cream at the kitchen counter.

Tricia, who had been diagnosed as profoundly deaf, was trying to communicate something to us. We couldn’t understand what she wanted. In frustration, she threw her hands into the air – and clipped her glass of milk on the upswing.

Doug slammed his fist on the table. “Tricia!”

Like she could hear him.

She did feel the vibration through the table, though, and she could see the ugly expression on his face. Her own face registered shock as she realized his anger was aimed at her.

“Bad girl. Look at this mess.” Doug pointed to the puddle of milk and the soggy paper napkins that hadn’t kept up with the flood. “Go to your room.”

He started to lift Tricia from her chair when Mom intervened shaking the ice cream scoop in his face. “Douglas James Geib, what do you think you’re doing?”

“She got mad, and she spilled her milk.”

“Yes, she did.  But I asked what you were doing.”

“I’m---” He stopped and looked from Mom to Tricia. With a puzzled expression, he settled Tricia back in her chair and returned to his seat.

Mom set the dripping scoop on one of the remaining dirty plates. Her voice gentled. “You’re trying to be the daddy, Doug. And you’re not. And that’s okay.”

“But Dad’s not here.”

“No, he’s not. But you don’t have to do his job.”

Doug frowned and opened his mouth to object.

Mom spoke first. “I appreciate all the man’s work you do. You help out whenever I ask. You and Steve and Linda. I can’t think what I’d do without all three of you helping around here.

“But only your dad can be Tricia’s daddy. Nobody else. And you’re Steve’s big brother, not his father. You’re Linda’s little brother, not her appointed guardian.” She walked around the table to where he sat. Placing a hand on Doug’s head, she ruffled his hair. “I have no complaints on your brother skills. Keep being a good brother. You don’t have to be a father.”

Doug looked down at his plate. His lip quivered. “May I be excused?”

“Certainly.” She squeezed his shoulder, and he almost ran from the room.

Mom looked at me and Steve. “You’re excused, too. We’ll save the ice cream for later.”

We shuffled out of the dining room, not sure what to say or do. I wondered what Tricia was thinking. Whatever she had wanted to tell us never got communicated.

Grandma mopped up the rest of the milk with some kitchen towels. She hadn’t said a word. As I walked out, Mom asked, “Did I do the right thing?”

Grandma murmured a response that faded as I headed upstairs. “He’s a good boy, but he can’t take on the burden…”

While her sons were small, Linda Sammaritan enjoyed writing magazine articles. Now a retired teacher, Linda has begun a new adventure writing in a digital world. She is currently working on a middle grade novel based on growing up with a deaf sibling.